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BoSox Looking to the East Again

September 3, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

In some recent news coming out of Japan, it seems the Boston Red Sox are seriously pursuing amateur free agent Junichi Tazawa, currently pitching in the Japanese Industrial Leagues. Also rumoured to be interested are the Mets, Braves and, of course, most NPB teams. The 22-year-old righthander is enjoying a solid year for Eneos Oil and is most worthy of the attention. In 54 IP, Tazawa has allowed 46 hits, a scant four — yes four – free passes and has struck out 56 with an ERA of 1.00. 

A probable early round choice heading into this year’s NPB draft, Tazawa throws a low 90s fastball, a curve and a shuuto, which is a pitch common to NPB hurlers that breaks down and in to right-handers when thrown by a righty (it’s essentially a reverse slider). It looks like the Red Sox are being very serious in their efforts to both scout and recruit from the Asian market and it is going to be very interesting to see the reaction from the NPB should Boston or any other MLB team sign Tazawa prior to the draft. 

This is definitely a name and a situation that merits monitoring over the next several months.

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5 Responses to “BoSox Looking to the East Again”

  1. khirata says:

    I don’t understand why teams are hitting the asian markets to hard for pitchers. Saito can’t stay healthy, Okajima was a one-hit wonder, Kuroda is inconsistant. The only good thing is that Daisuke will get 15+ wins, but he still has trouble getting passed the 5 inning mark. Hitters are a different story though (Ichiro, Matsui, Fukudome)

  2. tlmcleod says:

    The answer to your first question is very simple. Currently there is a shortage of quality pitching in MLB, and in the search for quality arms, teams are scouring every possible market that is out there. The successful transition of former NPB pitchers, namely Nomo, Sasaki, Otsuka and Hasegawa, are a pretty solid indicator that the talent is there to be of help at the MLB level. Sure, there have been failures, but there are failures every year with players from North America as well. Anyone remember Brien Taylor, or Ryan(Little Unit) Anderson? As long as there are opportunities, MLB will be out there looking. As far as the pitchers you mentioned, here’s my quick take on them.
    Saito: Signed as a f/a for 320,000. Found almost immediate success in the Dodgers pen. Last year was on a 1,000,000 contract and the numbers speak for themselves. An incredible 2007 for this allstar. This year at 38 he’s been bit by elbow woes, but all-in-all he’s been a top-tier producer at a bargain basement price.
    Kuroda: He has been inconsistent, but is still pitching decent with an ERA at 3.96 and a 1.22 WHIP. Not a bad 4th/5th starter in any league.
    Matsuzaka: He has had only 3 starts in which he has allowed more than 4 earned runs, and only 2 starts where he hasn’t gone at least 5 innings. He is currently posting a 16-2 won/loss record with a 2.88 ERA. In 351 1/3 IP since coming over from Japan, he has struck out 332. If he can ever find a way to lower the free passes he has the potential to be an elite level starting pitcher.
    Okajima: Currently Okajima is sporting a 2.83 ERA, 49K in 54 IP, with 20 holds and 1 save. This level of play is certainly one to which the phrase “one-hit wonder” need not apply. That great run from ‘07 was certainly not sustainable, but all-in-all not a bad year from Okajima. In comparing his level of performance to other lefty specialists, I certainly wouldn’t deem them to be unsuccessful.
    In summing things up, we have seen both success and failure, but as long as the opportunities are there, MLB will continue to explore them. Thanks khirata for the question and hope this rather lengthy explanation helps!

  3. Mike says:

    Okajima a one hit wonder? He’s one of the three pitchers I trust in the pen. Paplebon and Masterson the other two.

  4. RotoRob says:

    I agree, Mike, that calling Okajima a one-hit wonder isn’t accurate. As for other BoSox relievers, I talked about a few of the ones of the way recently: There’s some nice talent coming shortly.

  5. [...] in an article in early September we advised the world of the impending free agency of Junichi Tazawa, the starting pitcher from [...]

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